Interest in artificial intelligence (AI) has surged in the 118th Congress. There have been several hearings on a range of topics related to AI, including how federal agencies are using it and general principles for regulating its use. The House Committee on Judiciary, Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, has held a series of hearings related to AI and Intellectual Property. 

In a press release before the first hearing, Subcommittee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) said, “The advent of generative AI technologies has sparked a profound transformation in the creation, distribution, and consumption of creative works. As we embark on this legal journey, it is vital to explore the complex and nuanced relationship between generative AI and copyright law, recognizing both the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.” He added, “We must strike a delicate balance—a balance that upholds the rights of copyright holders, while fostering an environment that encourages creativity and collaboration.” 

In May 2023, the Subcommittee held the first hearing of the series entitled “Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property: Part I – Interoperability of AI and Copyright Law.” Witnesses for the hearing included Sy Damle, Partner, Latham & Watkins LLP; Chris Callison-Burch, Professor, University of Pennsylvania; Ashley Irwin, President, Society of Composers and Lyricists; Dan Navarra, Grammy-nominated musician; and Jeffrey Sedlik, President, PLUS Coalition. 

The central issues of the hearing were the extent to which works created by generative AI are protected by copyright laws and how content used to train AI is protected under the law. Mr. Damle argued in his written statement that existing copyright law “is more than up to the task of balancing the need for a dynamic domestic AI industry with the rights of creators.” He also emphasized that there are practical limitations to creating a payment structure for licenses for the large quantity of data used to train AI. 

Members of the committee seemed interested in the content of the hearing and expressed appreciation for the bi-partisan approach used to explore the issue of AI and intellectual property. Chairman Issa noted that this hearing was just the first of many. He further stated that he believes that Congress will find some middle ground that respects existing copyright law but allows generative AI to continue to grow. Over the next few blog posts, we will summarize this series of hearings and highlight the issues the witnesses and members of Congress discussed.

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